The Cleveland Browns have reportedly fired general manager Ray Farmer. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Farmer met with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam prior to Sunday's season finale against the Steelers and was relieved of his duties then.
Haslam acted swiftly replacing Farmer, promoting general counsel Sashi Brown to vice president of football operations and giving him final say of the 53-man roster, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Brown was the general counsel to the Jacksonville Jaguars before joining the Browns in 2013. He was an attorney before that.
Brown does not have scouting experience, but he is "analytics driven," according to Vic Carucci of Buffalo News.
Farmer was hired to be the club's assistant general manager in 2013. The team fired CEO Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi following the 2013 season, and Farmer was named the new GM heading into the 2014 season.
Head coach Mike Pettine is schedule to met with Haslam at 7:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, according to Adam Schefter. He's expected to be fired at that point.
Farmer, a former NFL linebacker whose career with the Philadelphia Eagles was cut short due to a knee injury after just three seasons in the league, was hired by the Atlanta Falcons as a scout in 2002. The Kansas City Chiefs hired Farmer as their director of pro personnel in 2006, and he remained in that role until Cleveland hired him in 2013.
This season, the Browns regressed from their 7-9 finish in Farmer's first year in the GM role. Farmer has drawn criticism for his performance in several aspects of his role, including draft selections, free agent acquisitions and his behavior on the sidelines.
Cornerback Justin Gilbert, selected by the Browns with the eighth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, is currently third on the depth chart on a team that is tied for 28th in the league for passing touchdowns allowed this season. Quarterback Johnny Manziel seems to be developing on the field, but off-the-field antics have hindered his progress as a player. They're not the only high picks Farmer has missed on, and the results have been devastating for a team that desperately needed talent.
Farmer's efforts in free agency have had similar results. The most glaring example of this is wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, who has appeared in seven games for the Browns this season and has contributed a total of five receptions for 53 yards. Bowe signed a two-year, $12.5 million contract with the Browns prior to the 2015 season, with $9 million guaranteed.
Farmer also found himself in hot water with the league when he admitted to sending texts to members of the coaching staff on the sidelines during Browns games. Use of a cell phone on the sideline violates the NFL's policy on electronic devices. Farmer was suspended by the league for the first four games of the 2015 season, and the Browns were fined $250,000. The league determined that the text messages sent by Farmer did not give the Browns a competitive advantage.
Farmer's brief tenure with the Browns is just one more example of a lack of continuity under Haslam's ownership, but Farmer did not do much to bolster confidence in his abilities as a GM over that time.
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